STAVANGERFJORD And BERGENSFJORD: Famous Names Revived

STAVANGERFJORD And BERGENSFJORD: Famous Names Revived

By Shawn J. Dake

A fanciful artist rendering of the BERGENSFJORD sailing alongside the STAVANGERFJORD on a calm, moonlit night in Scandinavia.
A fanciful artist rendering of the BERGENSFJORD sailing alongside the STAVANGERFJORD on a calm, moonlit night in Scandinavia.

Two very famous ship names, immortalized by the Norwegian America Line are being returned to sea by the Fjord Line.  The STAVANGERFJORD was delivered on July 8th and departed on its maiden voyage from Hirtshals, Denmark on July 14th.  After some initial delays, the new BERGENSFJORD is scheduled to follow next year. Billed as a cruise/ferry service  the ships will each depart three times per week from Bergen to Stavanger with service extending to Hirtshals in Denmark.   From Hirtshals there will also be day service to Langesund in southern Norway.  Unlike their Norse namesakes, the ships are registered in Denmark.

Launch of the STAVANGERFJORD at Gdansk, Poland on April 12, 2012.
Launch of the STAVANGERFJORD at Gdansk, Poland on April 12, 2012.

The STAVANGERFJORD was launched April 12, 2012 from the Stoczinia yard at Gdansk, Poland.  Fifteen days later on April 27th it arrived at the  Bergen Group Fosen shipyard in  Rissa, Norway for completion and interior outfitting.  Both ships are being built as a joint effort by the two shipyards.  Interestingly they were launched in the tradional manner, sliding down the ways instead of being floated from a dry dock.  The keel for the BERGENSFJORD was laid on December 15, 2011.  The architect for the project is Finn Falkum Hansen whose previous design work included the two Hurtigruten ships MIDNATSOL and TROLLFJORD.

An artist rendering of the new STAVANGERFJORD
An artist rendering of the new STAVANGERFJORD

The original STAVANGERFJORD was the longest serving liner on the North Atlantic, sailing under her orginal name her entire career from 1918 until being retired from service in December, 1963.  Norwegian America Line had two previous ships named BERGENSFJORD.  The first operated Atlantic crossings from Scandinavian ports to New York from 1913 until the outbreak of World War II, ending her NAL career on April 15, 1940.  The ship went on to see service as a troop transport and after the war continued in the passenger trades as a liner for Home Lines and Zim Israel Lines, not being broken up until 1959.   The second BERGENSFJORD was built in 1956 and combined trans-Atlantic crossings with cruise service until being sold to the French Line in 1971.  She was a sleek ship of 18,739 gross tons and remained very popular throughout the Norwegian phase of her career.  After a somewhat eventful, but ultimately failed stint operating cruises in the Far East, this ship ended her days burning out and capsizing in Greece during September, 1980. Fjord Line has also previously used the name BERGENSFJORD for one of their vessels which will be transferred to a new route and renamed OSLOFJORD when the new ship arrives.

The STAVANGERFJORD on left, meets the still incomplete BERGENSFJORD
The STAVANGERFJORD on left, meets the still incomplete BERGENSFJORD

The new STAVANGERFJORD and BERGENSFJORD are 25,000 gross ton sister ships.  Each can carry up to 1,500 passengers although 1,200 is closer to normal capacity on both day and night service.  Their hulls are  558 feet long (170 meters) with a beam of 90 feet (27.5 meters).   There are 306 passenger cabins onboard and car-carrying capacity for 600 vehicles.  Most importantly, the sole propulsion for the vessels is supplied by liquid natural gas (LNG) making them the largest passenger ships to use this new technology without other alternative fuel sources. As Emission Control Areas spread through Europe and North America, conventional cruise ships are likely to adapt to some form of LNG use in the future.  Strict standards limiting sulpher content to 0.1% are scheduled to go into effect in 2015.   The new ships are designed to cruise at a speed of 21.5 knots.  The low funnel should produce no visible smoke.    The very traditionally named STAVANGERFJORD and BERGENSFJORD are actually two very high tech vessels that may point the way toward the future while paying homage to the past.

Correction:  An earlier version of this story said,  The STAVANGERFJORD is already in service, having departed from Bergen, Norway on its maiden voyage May 29, 2013.  The BERGENSFJORD will follow this month.

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake
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